The global energy crisis is a concern for various entities, including universities. Reducing energy consumption is urgent with rising prices and potential disruptions. Optimizing lecture schedules can improve energy efficiency.
Universities face unique challenges managing energy usage due to transient populations and pandemic impact. By optimizing schedules, universities can reduce peak energy usage, make the most of natural light, match rooms to class sizes, consolidate students into fewer buildings, and install smart HVAC optimization software.
Our blog outlines five ways to optimize lecture schedules for greater energy efficiency, reducing costs and carbon footprint during the energy crisis.
Energy-Efficient Lecture Schedules: 5 Optimization Tips for University Campuses
Reduce peak energy usage
The scheduling of university lectures can have a significant impact on energy consumption and costs. By strategically planning lecture times, universities can reduce their peak energy usage, which can result in lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint.
Shifting some lectures to off-peak hours can make a substantial difference, as can planning lectures around times of the day when alternative energy sources like solar power are available. Taking these steps not only helps universities save money, but also contributes to a greener and more sustainable future.
Make the most out of natural light
When scheduling lectures, classroom orientation is crucial for optimal energy efficiency. East or south-facing rooms receive more sunlight, making them warmer in the morning. Scheduling classes in these rooms takes advantage of natural heating. Conversely, in summer, west or north-facing rooms should be used to reduce cooling needs.
Classroom orientation can also affect lighting needs. East-facing rooms should be used in the morning when natural light is brightest, and west-facing rooms in the afternoon or evening when the light is softer. Optimizing natural light reduces dependence on artificial lighting, leading to better energy efficiency.
Match rooms to class sizes
To achieve greater energy efficiency, it is essential for universities to optimize room occupancy with class sizes. In 2019, the mean space utilization levels of universities never exceeded 32%, with a yearly average of 18.6%. However, the pandemic has worsened this statistic, leading to even greater energy waste and higher costs.
For example, a 300-person lecture theatre for a class of 40 students means more empty rooms are being heated, cooled, or ventilated, resulting in more energy waste. Conversely, small rooms may become too warm, leading to high levels of CO2 and requiring more cooling and ventilation.
To better manage energy consumption, space utilization sensors can help identify which rooms are over or under capacity based on a baseline. By gathering and analyzing data, universities can make informed decisions about scheduling and optimize energy consumption, ultimately reducing waste and cutting costs.
Consolidate students into fewer buildings
To improve energy efficiency in university facilities, consolidating lectures and classes into fewer buildings can be an effective strategy. By doing so, universities can make the most of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in those buildings and potentially lower maintenance and repair costs. This approach is especially relevant during the pandemic, where space utilization sensors can help identify areas where improvements can be made.
Smart technology and strategic planning can help universities optimize their facilities for energy efficiency, reduce costs, and minimize their carbon footprint. Additionally, investing in energy-efficient upgrades and renovations can further improve sustainability and lower energy consumption.
Installing smart HVAC optimisation software
Smart technology for HVAC and lighting systems has advanced significantly, yet HVAC/BMS systems remain basic and inflexible. These systems use pre-set schedules that don’t adapt to changing conditions in real-time.
Upgrading HVAC or BMS systems can be time-consuming and costly. Instead, CubeOS and other software solutions offer a cost-effective alternative. They can integrate with existing hardware and collect data from various building sources to provide real-time analysis using machine-learning models.
CubeOS can provide HVAC schedule optimization recommendations or automated actions, which can help universities quickly maximize energy efficiency.
Implementing the changes suggested in this blog post can be time-consuming and may seem like a hassle. However, the fastest route to energy-efficient university estates is a smart HVAC optimization platform. CubeOS, our predictive HVAC optimization platform, can be implemented in weeks without any CapEx and offers short payback periods.
If you would like to learn more about CubeOS and how it can help reduce energy waste and ensure optimal indoor air quality in your buildings, get in touch via the booking calendar below. CubeOS is the equivalent of two HVAC engineers working 24/7 to analyze space utilization and tweak HVAC performance.
The time saved and data provided through CubeOS can also be used to analyze how lecture schedules can be adapted to maximize energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption further. Book a call today and find out how other universities have already implemented these strategies.